Flash (Ah-Ah) Not For Every One Of Us

by Ed Tsunoda on November 5, 2007

Having a visually attractive and aesthically pleasing site is important, but it has to be balanced and integrated with functionality and performance. Flash animations, lots of images, cool navigation tools all can be beautiful art, but they’re not for everyone or everything.

First of all, if you have content that requires a plugin like Adobe/Macromedia Flash and/or QuickTime as a couple of examples, there are going to be visitors to your web site that cannot see them. In general, the smaller and less established your web site is, the more important it is to be visable in every way to every one of them. While most people, it’s true, have the common plugins, if you only get 100 users a day, losing 5 or 6 of them can be bad news. And, while most people can see you, most search engines and spiders can’t.

Secondly, entirely plug-in required “intros” are a potential disaster. Many times, all a visiting search engine spider sees is <EMBED> lots of code </EMBED> and no links to your other pages or any part of your site. There really isn’t a single great application for an all-plugin powered “landing page”, aside from perhaps marketing your business that creates landing pages. :)

That said, if your designer is very into the technology, or you are compelled to have animations or zippy impressive navigation tools, remember than many of your users, and definitely most search engine spiders, require you to mix in some old school text to be able to get your message.

You definitely want to use images and interactive tools and programming applications to add visually stimulating components and color and motion to your site where applicable, however, you should be careful to keep the ratio of readable text to imagery favoring the text, and in principle you should always try and use text to represent text, and not embed text in images.

It’s easy to be sucked in to seeing a beautiful piece of art and wanting it to be associated with your business/site, but it’s important to look at it from your users’ perspective, especially the ones you hope will use the site every day. Make sure your designs allow both those users and the search engines to find you!

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